A near unanimous outpouring of Beyoncé adoration has spilled out from fellow celebrities and media personalities since her performance last night, Feb. 3, at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans with both The New York Times and Michelle Obama giving the halftime show high marks. However, a lot of this public support seems to be a subtle effort to move the Beyoncé spotlight away from her lip-synced 'National Anthem' debacle and back to a place of universal praise. When examined critically, B's performance at halftime did not live up to the standards she set for herself earlier in her career or to the hype created around the event. The singing, staging and dancing for her set severely lacked the taste, execution and style one would expect from an artist who attempts to demand respect at every turn of her career.
While one could not accuse Beyoncé of lip-syncing her performance, there was an actual minimum of singing until she closed the show with a snippet of 'Halo.' Her set list began after an extended set-up as the television audience was greeted to the sight of a stage designed to be dual Beyoncé facial silhouettes and a full-body silhouette backdrop that gave way to a puff of smoke and blurbs of 'Love on Top.' This faded into the first verse of 'Crazy in Love' being performed very huskily and off-kilter until the backing track kicked in for the chorus and her vocalizations gave way to standard aerobics-inspired dance moves coupled with advanced stripper techniques best left to women who can't actually sing.
Also utilized were a variety of above the stage video shooting techniques anyone familiar with The June Taylor Dancers from 'The Jackie Gleason' show or 'The Big Comfy Couch' immediately recognized. Kaleidoscopic effects are almost always dynamic and could have worked here if they didn't ooze of forced sensuality and attitude - much like a clomp-clomp psuedo-catwalk strut that would make even a first-round eliminated 'America's Next Top Model' contestant blush.
It really took four minutes of the approximately 13-minute show for an extended period of singing to occur with the single 'End of Time' - a somewhat lackluster tune that fell flat with its husky vocalizations. Also performed was the tune 'Baby Boy' from her first solo effort with accompaniment from the fleet of Beyoncé images that first appeared in her 2011 'Billboard Music Awards' performance of 'Run the World (Girls).' It was actually only appropriate that mirrored Beyoncé's perform between two facial silhouettes of the same.
Despite a The New York Times article stating that Beyoncé extended "an act of generosity" in allowing Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams to perform with her, the show really only reached the level of mildly interesting when these two ladies smoothed out some of the rough edges of the program with the sheer fun of a reunion and a reminder of a time when Beyoncé was more joyous and not a self-proclaimed queen. Alas, the accompaniment retired after the requisite performance of 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)' and the show was closed with an abbreviated performance of 'Halo' that relied more heavily on repetitions of "Halo" than the actual verses of the song.
All told, for over five minutes of the show, Beyoncé did not sing at all though some of those seconds did contain occasional exclamations of 'uh-uh,' 'Super Bowl' and other random filler as well as backing tracks. Of the other eight minutes of the show, approximately 2-1/2 minutes were filled by Destiny's Child which left Beyoncé actually singing alone for less than half of the time and a portion of that was filled by natural song breaks. If the show would have contained exceptional choreography instead of aerobic moves such as repeater knees and side steps and stripper squats, it may have been easier to not notice the lack of singing, but, as it is, halftime felt more like a burlesque show than a graceful return to form for a superstar.